***Part Eight***
Word Count: 4,173

Halloween 1987

"You get so many kids," she said as another group of kids left from his house. "I'm surprised. We never went to single guy's houses when I was young enough to trick-or-treat."

"I think it helps that it's a Saturday and it wasn't freezing, raining, or snowing. That and I give out the good candy every year."

"I suppose," she said. "Though anyone who knows you would be surprised about the good candy part."

"You met me at work. It's my livelihood. I can't let every pretty face think they can sweet talk their way out of paying for their car, sweetheart." He smirked a bit, evidently catching on. "You're teasing me."

"I was. I kind of miss it. My brother used to take me when I was real little. He hated it, too, and usually took some candy as payment for taking me around."

"Why didn't you wear a costume tonight?"

"Because I'm not a kid."

"There are some pretty nice not kid friendly costumes. I'm sure you could've thought of something."

"I knew I was going to be with you, handing out candy. I couldn't wear something that wouldn't be good in front of kids."

"Hmm. That means I don't get to give you a treat, though."

She laughed softly, running a fingertip along the thigh of his jeans. "Well, you still could," she said, sliding her hand up to his side. He loved when she touched him, and she knew that, too. Even the littlest touch like this was not just nice but welcome. It meant she wanted to and there were times despite the months they'd been together he wondered why exactly she wanted to be with him. Now that she was in college especially he wondered that.

"Nuh uh, the rules say I can't."

"That's too bad," she murmured.

He slid an arm around her, tugging her closer against him. "It's a crime."

"It is."

He lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her. He deepened it eagerly because she seemed just as anxious as he was. He loved when she pressed against him like this, wanting to be as close to him as she could get. The heat of her against him turned him on and he groaned into the kiss as he slid a hand to her ass, cupping her there. She brushed herself against him and he responded in kind unable to resist.

She whimpered softly at the sound of the doorbell. He should have known better than to start kissing her like this so early. He knew it'd be a while yet before the kids stopped coming to the door. He could turn off his light, lock the door, and take her upstairs but she seemed to like seeing the costumes.

"I'll get this one," she whispered.

"Thank you," he said.

"Don't want to scare the kiddos."

"Scare them?"

"Well, yeah."

"I think we need to have a talk if that scares you."

"I didn't say it scared me! I'm also not nine years old."

"You want to find a movie or something?" he asked once she'd handed out the candy to the latest batch of trick-or-treaters.

"We can, sure."

He joined her on the couch where she was flipping through the channels.

"So, I actually do have a treat for you," he said.

"Even though I didn't dress up?"

"Even though."

"Erik," she said.

He reached into his pocket then.

"So, I was noticing the other day when we were out that it's not so obvious we're together."

"It's not?"

She looked very confused by that. Of course it was obvious when they were together that they were. He liked to hold her hand, but it was the times they weren't together that it wasn't so obvious. The hickeys he'd gotten into the habit of leaving on her neck now that he could only lasted so long. She didn't mind them, but he imagined once the newness of being able to have visible ones wore off she'd get tired of him leaving them there.

"Well, yeah, you know, when you're at school and not here."

"Oh," she said.

He took her hand, sliding the ring he'd bought onto her finger.

"Erik. It's beautiful."

"Yeah? I was looking for something different. You'd think no one ever goes into a jewelry store to buy a ring for a woman that's not an engagement ring."

"They kept steering you towards the diamonds?"

"Uh, yeah, and shit do they make you feel like crap for not thinking you should take a mortgage on your house in order to buy one."

She laughed softly at that.

"This is beautiful. Thank you."

"Yeah? It's the birthstone for March. Since we met in March," he shrugged. "They had a real nice ruby one, but I don't know. I liked this one."

She leaned in and kissed him. It'd been a while since his doorbell rang so when she shifted as if she might like to lay on top of him he maneuvered them that way easily enough. She slid her hands under his shirt, sliding it up a bit before she reached for the waistband of his jeans.

He groaned a bit as she worked the fastening and zipper before sliding her hand inside of them. She was much, much better at this now. There were times he felt guilty about that, that their relationship was giving her experience that seven months ago she didn't even want. Tonight was not one of those times. Tonight he sat back and enjoyed her touching him and wanting to touch him. There were times he thought she did it, touched him, out of some sense of obligation or feeling as though she needed to. He never pushed her, very rarely initiated anything like this between them. To this point, he'd been the only one that got touched like this and he didn't want her to think he was incredibly selfish or totally taking advantage of the situation.

Not many guys would complain about their girlfriends giving them hand jobs without any expectation of doing anything in return. He didn't mind certainly, but he felt kind of guilty about it just the same. In part because John knew and liked her. When their relationship had gotten more serious once she'd stopped seeing Dan, John had in a roundabout way threatened him with bodily harm if Erik hurt her. He wondered if she comprehended that she'd managed to ensnare four men that night. One was old enough to be her dad, the other a criminal who likely stayed away for that reason. Erik wasn't so sure he'd be here with her right now if that guy had pursued her. Erik had done shit to help them that night that guy had pretty literally saved their lives. For whatever reason, Dan hadn't made the cut. Erik didn't understand the why of it, he just knew that he was here with her now.

And he wasn't going to fuck it up. He'd been very tempted to accept the woman's guidance at the jewelry store when she tried to prompt him into looking at the engagement rings. He never envisioned wanting to propose to someone, but he could with her. It was too soon, though. For her. So, he'd settled for something different.

Eventually she stopped kissing him, her head against his chest as she touched him. She wasn't touching with the intent of making him come. He could always tell when she just felt like touching him. The first time she'd done it had been a little frustrating to say the least, but he'd been getting used to it. He wasn't sure what that said.

"It occurs to me," he whispered. She lifted her head to look at him.

"Yeah?"

"I'm not the greatest with words or saying the right things."

"Erik, you're fine."

"Well, no, because it occurs to me I've never told you that I love you."

"What?" she asked. She looked genuinely surprised. A good surprise?

"I know you heard me."

"I did. I just wasn't expecting…"

"Really? After almost seven months of seeing you?"

"Well, yeah," she shrugged.

"Hmm," he said. That wasn't really the reaction he was hoping for. And then she moved as if to get off the couch and he wondered if he'd just inadvertently fucked up.

"I'll be right back," she said.

"Okay," he said, confused. He was fine with her not saying it back. He knew she'd been hurt and wasn't going to trust him in a heartbeat. It was just two months ago she'd been adamant that they go to get pizza having fooled around first. Her idea, not his. Her uncertainty he guessed because there was a face to go with the name of someone who liked him. He didn't have faces and as far as he knew Dan hadn't contacted her once since she'd told him whatever she had said about not seeing him anymore.

"Hey, Erik," she called from upstairs.

"Yeah?"

"Can you come here for a minute?"

"Yeah, sure," he said, working the fastening on his jeans again before getting off the couch to go upstairs.

He almost wondered if she was upstairs, putting her shit together to leave for the night. He'd gotten very used to her being here every weekend. She came Fridays as soon as she was done with class and very rarely left until she had to Monday morning. A couple of times she'd gone to a party with Brenda on Friday night, but she'd always come to his place afterward. Almost two full months he'd had her here every weekend and he was finding it very difficult to sleep well the four nights of the week she wasn't here.

He didn't know what it meant that he told a woman he loved her and she wanted to leave. That probably wasn't a very good sign.

"Listen, if I said something wrong downstairs," he said before noticing her on the bed. He'd even gotten into the habit of mentally calling it their bed because he really liked having her in it.

"Oh," he said, noticing she wasn't wearing what she'd been wearing downstairs. He'd teased her the first weekend she'd come here about having something girlie to sleep in. She hadn't, but she sure did tonight. "God you're gorgeous," he whispered, unable to screen his thoughts.

She laughed softly. He knew it was a defensive thing with her, lack of confidence or something. She had every reason to be conceited and yet she wasn't in the least.

"And I'm severely overdressed if you're wearing that."

"Well, you could change it."

"I could," he said, sitting on the edge of the bed. "Just want to be clear on something. I didn't say I love you for any purpose or to gain something."

"I know," she whispered.

"You do? You're sure because the timing of this seems to kind of go with my saying that."

"No, you just made my decision for me saying it."

"I see," he said. "So, this was in your bag when you got here last night?"

"It's actually been in my bag the last two weekends."

"Hmm. You bought it and had second thoughts?"

"No, I bought it and chickened out."

He shifted a bit, resting a hand at her calf. He stood then, though.

"Save my spot," he whispered.

"What?" She sounded absolutely petrified.

"I'm not going anywhere other than downstairs to turn off the light and lock up. I don't want the older ones coming by an hour or two from now."

"Oh," she said.

"You stay right there. I swear I'll be right back."

"Okay," she whispered.

He leaned down, kissing her before going downstairs to do what he needed to down there. He couldn't recall a time he'd ever locked up the house so quickly. Usually he was much more careful. He was really mostly concerned about the front door and the outside light being off. Someone coming to his backyard would have to get through a locked gate to get in so he wasn't as concerned about that.

He worked the buttons on his shirt undone as he made his way back up the stairs. She was right where he'd left her and he smiled a little at that as he slid his shirt off once he joined her again in the bedroom.

"Hi," he said.

"You made it."

"I'm not sure there's anything that could've stopped me from making it back here."

"Good."

"I think so," he said unfastening his jeans once again. He liked her doing it much better, but he wanted them off now.

"I realized something laying here."

"What?"

His heart sunk a bit at that. She realized she couldn't do this, didn't really want him to see her like this after all. He couldn't blame her, he supposed, but God he'd been more than incredibly patient and understanding to this point. He'd continue to be if necessary, of course. Man, seeing her in his bed dressed like that, though. He didn't want it to be necessary any more.

"You said you loved me."

"You just realized that?"

"No, I realized I didn't say it back."

"Well, no."

"I love you, too," she said.

"Yeah?"

"Yes."

"You're not just saying that so I don't feel like an idiot for saying it?"

"No, I wouldn't do that."

"You wouldn't, huh?"

"No," she said, shaking her head.

"Well, since we're being honest."

"Yes?"

"I love you in my bed like that, too," he said, joining her on the bed.

She shifted a bit so he could settle on top of her comfortably.

"I'm glad I was a little nervous putting it on."

"Really? Why? You're gorgeous whatever you wear."

"I don't know. I just don't feel very sexy."

"I don't see why not."

"Because I don't know what I'm doing."

"Well, you're doing just fine, trust me."

He slid a hand along her hip, groaning softly at the feel of the satiny material under his hand. His hands weren't smooth or anything. Far from it so the fabric was a little lost on his sense of touch. Callouses and scars on top of scars dulled it a bit. He could still appreciate her, though.

She gasped when he found her thigh. He kissed her then, capturing the sound as he slid his hand over a bit. God, he was harder than he'd been in months at the mere thought of being this close to her naked. He had no idea what she had in mind for tonight but he just hoped he lasted long enough so she didn't think he was the one who didn't know what he was doing.

He found her nub, grazing it lightly with the pad of his finger through the panties she wore. They were silky, too, he could tell that much about them. She groaned, spreading her legs a bit and he fought the urge to slide his hand into her panties right now. He wanted to take his time and enjoy everything about her.

She pressed herself into his touch, prompting him to touch her harder so he did. Her hands at his forearms were gripping him for dear life as he let his hand slide a little lower, pressing a fingertip along her opening through her panties there.

"Erik," she murmured.

The way she said his name was his undoing. He slid his hand into her panties, touching her there. He dipped a fingertip inside of her, groaning at the wetness that surrounded him when he did that. He alternated between rubbing her nub and sliding along her slick opening before he finally had to stop kissing her and settle his curiosity about the taste of her.

He chuckled softly as she called out a very not lady-like word when he slid his tongue over her nub. She didn't cuss much, so it was a bit of a turn on that he could make her do it under these circumstances.

He was pretty sure he could do this all night. She came so easily. She was very shy about it the first time or two, but after that seemed not to care anymore. She tasted every bit as good as he imagined. He slid his mouth up along her abdomen, sliding the nightie up as he went so he could pay attention to her breasts.

She slid a hand into his boxers. He wasn't expecting her other one to join it and for her to push them down. He reached down to help her, sliding them down and off, tossing them to join her panties on the floor next to the bed. She reached between his legs then, touching and stroking him before settling him against her opening.

"Just a second, honey," he whispered. "I need…"

"You don't."

"Chris," he said, drawing away a bit. "I can't do that tonight." There was no way he was going to last long and he wasn't going to take the chance that even a drop came out before he pulled out.

"I went on the pill."

"You did that?"

She blushed then, which he found rather amusing considering she was essentially naked underneath him.

"Is that bad? Should I not have done that?"

"No," he said quickly. "Not bad at all."

"Good. I just thought you'd like it," she shrugged.

"Oh, I do," he said. "I'm a little surprised you thought about it before we needed it."

"I knew we'd need it a while ago."

"You did, huh? Should I be insulted you thought I was easy?"

She gave a giggle and he kissed her.

"Yes, you should," she said. "I'm sorry."

"You are not. That's a worthless apology if I've ever heard one."

"I know. I'm lying. I'm not sorry at all."

"Now I believe you."

"You believe I love you?"

"Honey, I should be the one asking that right now, not you."

"I know you do."

"Yeah?"

"Good. And you're sure?"

"Do I seem like I'm having second thoughts?"

"Well, no, put like that, but it's kind of a huge step to go from where we were to everything."

"I'm ready for a huge step."

"It was the ring, wasn't it?"

"No, it was just you."

"It didn't help at all?"

"It helped me realize I didn't need to wait any more."

She was surprised when he slid himself lower along her body again he could tell. He wasn't quite ready yet to be inside of her. Oh, he was ready, readier than anything he'd been ever in his life. He didn't want to rush it, though. He wanted to be sure she enjoyed herself, was pleased beyond her imagination.

"Erik, please," she whispered later.

He drew away a bit then, stopping at her inner thigh to leave a hickey there. He almost came just from doing that. He wasn't sure what that said.

He slid inside of her then, mumbling more than a few curse words under his breath at the feel of her around him. Knowing until tonight no one, nothing had been inside of her before was a crazy turn on for him. He was slow, gentle, easing into her at first. Then he couldn't resist, he had to thrust inside of her. He couldn't fight the urge to be completely inside of her any more than he could go without breathing. He had to be, "there," he murmured.

Her nails at his forearms eased up after a bit so he started moving inside of her again, building momentum as she grew accustomed to him inside of her. He used his mouth at her breasts, enjoying the feel of her peaks hard in his mouth.

She moved under him and that was his undoing. She hadn't exactly laid still before that moment, but she hadn't moved against his thrust, taking him deeper into her as she'd just done.

He moved to slide off of her.

"Where are you going?" she whispered.

"I don't want to get too heavy," he answered.

"Not yet," she said.

"Okay," he said. He was a big guy, taller and bigger than she was by far but if she wanted him to stay put he wasn't going to argue with the lady.

"Are you okay?" he asked after a few minutes.

"Yes, I'm fine," she answered.

He wasn't sure fine was a good response or not.

"Okay."

"I just," she shrugged. Fuck. Here it came. He should've known better. Her change in heart was so drastic of course she was going to second think herself when they were done. "I don't feel any different."

He chuckled at that.

"What were you expecting? To be branded with a scarlet letter or something?"

"I don't know. I just expected to feel…different."

"Oh, I imagine tomorrow morning you'll be sore enough to realize something's different. I'm sorry about that."

"You have nothing to be sorry for."

"I wasn't nearly as slow as I should've been."

"It felt good!"

"Yeah?"

He always thought of himself as kind of a brute of a guy. He'd never had a long-term, meaningful relationship so he always felt kind of clumsy when it came to sex. Women never complained, but he didn't see them real often after they had sex for him to know if they did or not.

"Yes. You felt very good."

"So did you," he whispered.

"Good," she answered.

He slid off of her eventually, drawing her to him. He'd never been inside of a woman without a rubber before. He probably should've asked her for proof she was actually on the pill. He trusted her, though. In fact, it wouldn't make a difference if she did turn up pregnant other than he'd ask her to marry him instead of move in with him.

"So, I was thinking," he said, staring at the ceiling.

"Yeah?"

"Next spring when you're done with classes?"

"Uh huh."

"I don't want you to go back home."

"What?"

"I want this to be your home. You know, with me."

"Erik," she said, clearly surprised.

"I know women like you deserve proposals, but you're so young yet I don't want to do that to you."

"Moving in with you is better?"

"You'd rather I asked you to marry me? Believe me, I want to. I'm not letting you go."

"You want me here?"

"I do."

"Every day?"

"Every day. Every night. You and Brenda could maybe get an apartment off-campus next year so you had somewhere to stay during the week if you thought you had to. The distance isn't insurmountable, though. People drive that commute every day for years."

"I…"

"You can think about it."

"I don't have to think about it, Erik. I'd love to live here."

"And your parents?"

She shrugged. "What can they do? I'm going to school like they wanted me to."

"They could demand I marry you."

"They could. I'll just tell them we'll get married when we're ready to."

"I guess I should take that ring back then," he said, running a fingertip along it.

"Not a chance."

"Man, I have to buy another one?"

She laughed softly. "You would have to, yes."

"Well, we can wait to tell your parents until I've done that then."

She leaned over him, kissing his chest.

"Can we get a dog?"

"A dog?"

"Yeah."

"I don't know, honey, I'm not home so much. You'll be gone possibly three nights a week that's not a real good or fair life for a dog."

"If I'm living here you're not going to work so late every night. You could also take him to work with you."

"I suppose. I can't say no to you. What kind of dog did you have in mind? Please tell me it's not a poodle or something that I'll be embarrassed to take to work with me."

"No. I'm sure we could find one we both like."

"Yeah, like a German shepherd. Or a Doberman."

"Good guard dogs. I'm surprised you haven't gotten one already as late as you work."

"No one messes with me, honey, haven't you figured that out yet?"

"Except me."

"Except you. And there's a reason for that as it turns out."

"Did you ever think that night that we'd end up here?"

He scoffed. "No. I thought you were pretty and insanely hot, but you giving me the time of day never in a million years entered my mind."

"You asked me out for pizza."

"You accepted!"

"You made me feel bad, telling me you wanted to know what you got beat up for."

"I didn't care. I just wanted you to say yes."

"Really?"

"Honey, I'd do it all over again if I had to."

"Even if I didn't come back to give you your five dollars."

"Even if. I think I would've found you anyway."

"Why?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. I just do."

"I think I would have liked to see that."

"I'm glad I didn't have to."

~The End~